Yesterday, I had a coffee with my IESE Business School colleague Miquel Llado. We were celebrating his new book “Fall in Love with the Future” (available now in Spanish: Enamorarse del Futuro).

Miquel’s book shares valuable lessons on life and leadership from his career as CEO of Sara Lee, CEO of Bimbo, VP of Pepsico and his years of teaching at IESE. Miquel was elected Spain’s Best Executive 2000 by the Spain Business Association AED.

I’ve ordered 100 copies of the book to share with our Vistage CEO members in Spain.

Coffee with Miquel, and his new book “Fall in Love with the Future”

On Feedback…

Miquel shared a recent anecdote. A successful leader was sat in his office when a colleague came over to his desk.

Colleague: “Do you want my feedback?”

Leader: “No. I have no interest in your feedback. If I had listened to all the feedback that people threw at me all my life, I wouldn’t be a millionaire today.”

Miquel was shocked. All feedback is good feedback? or No?

Leader: “I am very careful about who’s feedback I am open to hearing. Not everyone’s feedback is useful… and many people have no idea what my actual objective is.”

Not all Feedback is Good Feedback (for you)

I heard this a few years back and I wrote it into my notebook at the time. “Evaluate feedback not on its face value, but on the quality of the life of the person giving you the feedback.”

If they have a life that inspires you, if they live to a set of standards and values that you aspire towards… then take the feedback seriously (whether it seems useful or not!).

How to Make Feedback Valuable

After I heard Miquel’s story, I thought “In my course we use feedback all the time, from everyone… is that something I should reevaluate?”

In my IESE courses, we make extensive use of peer feedback… from as many people as possible… but the first thing that the speaker must begin from is their statement of purpose. We call it Point X. “When I have finished speaking my audience will…” All the audience feedback is based on helping increase the power and the potency of the speaker’s words and actions towards consistently achieving that result.

If a speaker’s objective is “when I have finished speaking my audience will write their email address on a paper to commit to donate an hour to mentor an MBA student this week”… If nobody in the audience has written down their email, I am pretty harsh when feedback is “your speech was wonderful and I loved your story”. The purpose of speaker was not to be seen as wonderful. Their purpose was to get the audience to commit to giving 1 hour of their time. You can give an entertaining speech that totally fails to achieve its original objective.

Improving Feedback

In giving feedback, maybe I should be first interested in asking the person “What was your objective?” before I throw in my 2 cents. Often I have assumed their intent, but maybe I am incorrect.

When someone approaches me with feedback, maybe first I should ask “I’m intrigued, what do you think was my primary objective?”

Hitting the Bullseye

I shoot an arrow at a target and I miss. I ask a colleague for feedback. “I don’t like the colour yellow on your t-shirt… it is distracting” It is honest, sincere feedback, but it doesn’t help me hit the target next time.

If you liked this post, you’ll love my friend Florian Mueck’s guest post on this blog The Virtuous Circle of Feedback.

This video is about paying attention in the process of learning, and trusting the process.

The Art of Learning: Attention without Judgement.

If I am judging everything, I am judging from today’s level of mastery… and blocking my progress. It is so difficult to remember that I don’t see more than what I am capable of seeing.

Shoshin is a chinese word that means “open mind” – a mind that is open to possibility rather than constantly analysing everything that is presented to me (through the prism of my current level of expertise).

Want to see a nudibranch?

Here’s a video about Nudibranches

“Progress is impossible without change. Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything” 

George Bernhard Shaw

If you can’t change your mind, then you’re not using it.

Adaptability is important.

If you don’t change and update your world view based on new information and new perspectives, you are dangerous.

If you tend to fight to be “right”, you are dangerous… mostly to yourself and your future.

How to open up to change?  Ask great questions: Read How to ask great questions? and 15 Great questions to ask your kids

How to Improve Teamwork?

There are many ways, many frameworks, many tips.  Here I share one simple, easy to implement change that you can begin to use today.

Sometimes the best way to allow your team mates to ask for help is for you to ask for help first (and especially when you don’t necessarily believe that you need help).  Allow others to have an impact on you, they will then open to allow you to have an impact on them.

This video is about learning the humility as a leader to ask for help, not when you need it, but at times where you don’t feel you need it – at times where you are not struggling, at the times where you would tend to just get on with it and solve it yourself.

If you liked this post, you will also like 6 Question to Ask Yourself Every Day to be a Better Leader and 12 Vital Questions for Any New Business.

I was on the road for 8 hours over last 2 days, lots of podcasts.

I listened to Tim Ferriss speaking to Jason Fried.  Jason seems an interesting character – professes to have no goals as he learnt at a young age that setting and aiming at goals only served to detract from his joy of life.  I don’t think his approach works for everyone, but I do think I have something to learn from his attitude of learning to enjoy and contribute rather than focus on task completion.

One sentence really hit me as he said it:

“In schools, you don’t learn to iterate. You complete the task, you hand it in, and you are done. In life, iteration is everything.” Jason Fried

When I heard this I repeated “iteration is everything” over and over for a few miles… because I completely agree.  Why am I good at giving a speech?  Iteration.  I get to speak hundreds of times every year.  Writing?  this blog.  I write hundreds of posts, edit them, improve them, republish them… each iteration is a slight improvement.

There is a story from Toyota in the 1980s.  Globally they decided to implement an employee suggestion scheme, but they left it up to each national leadership team to decide how to implement the scheme.

In the US, the leadership decided to pay 2% of the value of the change once implemented.  Imagine you are working on the factory floor of a Toyota plant in US.  What type of ideas are you looking for?  You will get 2% of the value of the change…  big ideas, huge ideas!

In the US they received an average of 1.5 ideas per employee of which less than 10% were actually implemented.

In Japan, the leadership decided to pay $50 for every idea.  Imagine you are there on the floor of the Japanese factories.  What type of ideas are you looking for?  Small ideas, little improvements, anything that slightly improves the efficiency or quality of life of the factory.

In Japan, they received an average of 55 ideas per employee, of which around 70% were implemented.  Within 2 years the Japanese operations were so much more efficient that they took the new Japanese operations and re-implemented them around the world.

Iteration is Everything

All excellence is from iteration. World class musicians play a piece hundreds of times with small improvements (or just changes) with each iteration. Sports is repetitive. My speaking is repetitive.

What piece of old writing could you dust off and improve 1% and produce a new iteration?  What skill could you focus 5 minutes each day on iteration?  What animal have you always wanted to be able to draw… draw a bad version today and iterate every day for the next month…

How to practice iteration… Check out this from Jason The Writing Class I’d Love to Teach

This video is from Bilbao in front of the Guggenheim Museum. I was in Bilbao for the launch of Vistage in the region.

In my courses I often have participants who hate following standard processes. Sometimes this is a good thing. When you decide to break the rules, you better do your homework and preparation so that what you deliver is excellent. Too often, “creative” people break the rules of structure… but don’t do the necessary work to be excellent in delivery.

If you liked this video, you might also like Performance Excellence: Deliberate Practice and the 3 Models of Mastery and Self Discipline will make you a Better Leader.

This video is from up in the French Pyrenees.  It is about learning to ski.

It takes a few days of hard knocks to get to a level where you can even basically enjoy it.

The skills that turn out to be passions in your life, they will take time to develop. Many people give up after 1 day of frustration – they give up on skiing, they give up on speaking in public, they give up on learning a new language.

The easy stuff gets boring quickly. The harder skills can give a lifetime of enjoyment… if you can get through the initial pain.

If you liked this post, you will also like What is the hardest thing you ever had to work for? and Finding Purpose and Defining a Vision for your Life.

What skills are you working to improve in 2018?  What areas of your life will you dedicate time and energy to make changes? I’d love to hear in the comments below…

I'd love you to leave a comment and tell me the answer to this question: Who is the most enthusiastic person that you know? 

Thanks, Conor

Last night, I asked a retired inspector of schools: “What makes a great school?”

His answer… “Music.”

He said that infallibly he would find a thriving musical scene in every great school that he had visited.

When you are surrounded by enthusiastic people, you are willing to take risks and learn; brave tries are celebrated. When you are surrounded by cynics and apathetic people you don’t take risks and any effort at bravery is laughed at and mocked.

On Friday I attended the YouTube Creators day in Barcelona. It struck me just how powerful a room full of enthusiastic people can be. There was no cynicism and no apathy. All efforts at Learning, trying and courage to take risks were celebrated.

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Making movies #YouTube

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PS My own answer is: Florian Mueck (http://www.florianmueck.com/florian/)

This is a story about a lost tribe in Papua New Guinea.

They were brought to the city of Singapore and shown skyscrapers, airports, factories, supermarkets, homes and life. When they were on their way back to their mountain village, they were asked: “What is the most incredible thing you have seen during your days in Singapore?”.

Watch this video to hear their answer…

If you are reading this via email, the video is here: The Story of the Wheelbarrow: We are blind to anything beyond our imagination

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Overlooking the White House

I was in Washington DC the last 6 days teaching on the Entrepreneurs’ Organisation Leadership Academy 2016.  We had 28 leaders from all around the world – China, Nepal, Mexico, India, Pakistan, Canada, Germany, Australia, USA, UK.  The White House was being prepared for the inauguration of the next US President.

Christophe Magnussen is an inspiring entrepreneur from Germany. We made a short video up on the roof of our hotel, overlooking the winter evening sky of Washington DC.

Interview with Christoph Magnussen

If you are seeing this by email, here is the video: Interview with Christoph Magnussen

Christoph has some great tips on entrepreneurship and productivity over on his youtube channel.  I like the work he puts in to making the videos engaging and fast moving.

The Key to a Killer Keynote Talk

Here, Christoph took some time with another Leadership Academy attendee, Rich Mulholland from South Africa to discuss how to become a better keynote speaker:

If you are seeing this by email, here is the video: Interview Rich Mulholland

Don’t waste time in meetings

If you are seeing this by email, here is the video: Don’t waste time in meetings

If you can’t sell, you can’t lead

If you are seeing this by email, here is the video: If you can’t sell, you can’t lead

How to effective work Remotely

If you are seeing this by email, here is the video: How to effective work Remotely